Fun with Highways: #TX07

Primary election season is in full swing.  In a couple weeks, we will be having one here in California (as well as an election for mayor here in SF).  But tomorrow, there is a runoff in Texas’ 7th Congressional District (TX07) in which we at CatSynth are taking a keen interest.  As illustrated in the map, TX07 cuts an odd shape through the western neighborhoods of Houston and the adjacent towns in Harris County.  It is a diverse area and intersects with all three of Houston’s loop highways, which is no small feat.  It includes several wealthy enclaves, but also middle-class neighborhoods, and areas that have been hit by serious flooding during Hurricane Harvey and preceding events.

US 59The southeast “bulge” part of the district includes sections of Houston that lie within the I-610 loop, or “Inner Loop”.  I-610 separates the downtown sections of Houston from outer neighborhoods and surrounding communities, including towns like Southside Place.  It is bisected west-to-east by the new I-69 (US 59).  The area where these two highways intersect would not look out of place in Los Angeles.


[By Socrate76 [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], from Wikimedia Commons]

Heading north and west, we come to the middle section of the district, which is largely a horizontal rectangle bounded by the mighty I-10 to the north, and which extends almost to Katy in the west.  Beltway 8, also known as the Sam Houston Parkway/Tollway, bisects this segment of the district.  Just to the west of the beltway are the Briarforest neighborhood and the ominously named Energy Corridor.  Not surprisingly, several major energy corporations have operations in this area, as do several other businesses.  The Buffalo Bayou – we at CatSynth are still not entirely sure what separates a bayou from a river – cuts through the district.  It was subject to major flooding during Hurricane Harvey.  In addition to the bayou itself cresting at record levels above flood stage. releases from the Barker Reservoir caused severe flooding in adjacent low-lying neighborhoods.  We have sources that have informed us that the floodwaters in the Energy Corridor area were most unpleasant.

The final section of the district cuts an inverted “L” between State Highway 6 and State Highway 99, the outermost loop around Houston, bounded on top by US 290.  In all, the district has an odd shape indeed, but not so odd when one considers the tradition of gerrymandering, an art which has been taken to new heights by Texas’ Republican-controlled state government.  Its shape has long preserved it as a safe Republican district – it has elected Republicans to Congress consistently since George H.W. Bush in 1966.  But the city and surrounding area have been changing, and it is seen as vulnerable to flip to 2018.

Several Democratic candidates have vied to take on incumbent Republican John Culbertson, including Laura Moser, a progressive candidate who also just happens to be the sister-in-law of CatSynth author and founder Amanda Chaudhary.  As such, we are watching her candidacy with great interest and excitement.  Leading up to the main primary in March, things got a bit nasty, with the DCCC (Demoncratic Congressional Campaign Committee) throwing its weight behind another candidate, more mainstream and connected to the Democratic establishment.  This was an unusual move for a suburban primary election, and some of the opposition was rather mean-spirited.  But that is a long-standing part of elections, and it only served to galvanize support for Moser, who placed second in the crowded field and made to the runoff which happens tomorrow, May 22.  Not having learned their lesson the first time, the DCCC has continued to attack her, including some rather nasty opposition-research-style drops (in some ways, they reminded me of some recent attacks on Jane Kim on our local mayor’s race in SF).  But in this case, it was against family, and therefore personal in addition to being against my political views.  So we at CatSynth are pulling strongly for Laura Moser in Texas’ 7th Congressional District tomorrow, and hope she wins both the runoff and the general election in November.  You can find out more about her history and positions on her website, and if you have any friends in TX07, please encourage them to get out and vote!

#Houston Updates

As the heat recedes in San Francisco and we return to something closer to normal, our attention returns to our human and feline friends in Houston and elsewhere affected by the storm.

In addition to rescuing stranded pets, one of the challenges facing animals and those who care from has been the damage done to local shelters in southeast Texas by the storm. Organizations from around the country have stepped up.  From the San Francisco SPCA’s recent Facebook post:

Rescue Cats from Texas coming to SF SPCA.

Rescue Cats from Texas coming to SF SPCA.

Our little ‘Stormtroopers’ (15 pups and 15 kitties) are resting peacefully after arriving last night from a galaxy far, far away (also known as Texas). We will be providing frequent updates over the next few days and they should all be available for adoption by the end of the week. Stay tuned here and on our adoption pages for news and pictures. Thanks again to our partners–Muttville Senior Dog Rescue, The Milo Foundation, MAD Dog Rescue, Charlie’s Acres, PetSmart Charities and Austin Pets Alive!–for helping bring the ‘Troopers back to the Bay Area so we can help find them new homes. The people and pets of Texas still need your help so please consider making a donation to Austin Pets Alive or any of the other organizations that are on the ground in the Houston area helping to make a difference.

Speaking of Austin Pets Alive, they continue to be on the ground helping their friends to the east, including the hard-hit city of Beaumont.   From APA’s latest update:

Speaking of Austin Pets Alive, they continue to be on the ground helping their friends to the east, including the hard-hit city of Beaumont.   From APA’s latest update:

– We are not only taking owner-surrendered dogs. Best Friends Animal Society opened their temporary shelter at the Montgomery County Fairgrounds on Thursday, and the City of Austin and City of Houston have both opened facilities in the past 48 hours to help take in strays and lost animals. So, we have transitioned back to working with animals who are not waiting for an owner and need to work towards adoptions – which is what APA! does every day back in Austin.

– Thankfully, the city of Beaumont has set up the Ford Center to accept stray animals – so they have a safe, albeit warm, place to be. It is important to us that the pets coming to our facilities also come with the most information possible, as we need to know whether to help animals find forever homes or reunite with their families.

Best Friends Animal Society continues to also be on the ground helping rescue and reconnect animals with their humans.

We are happy to say that our human and feline friends at Mad Macedonian and Opinionated Pussycat are safe in Houston, although perhaps a bit soggy.  This Instagram post was from the storm itself last week.  The waters have receded since then.

Others are not so fortunate. Arun Chaudhary has been documenting the devastation in and around the Houston area in exquisitely detailed but distressing sometimes terrifying photos. This first one is along I-10.

One of the big issues now with the flood waters is the pollution and toxicity unleashed by the area’s massive energy-production industry. It is impossible to get a sense from the images of just what is coming.

Laura Moser, founder of Daily Action and Congressional candidate, continues to work in the communities on the north and west of the city, including Katy. The scenes from there are pretty devasting.

You can see the entire series of photos in this Tweet thread, which features photos by Arun Chaudhary. She also made this call for specific supplies needed:

Several of us have been going back and forth to 8503 Mesa Drive with supplies. There are now 3 drop-off locations for people who want to drop off contributions: my house (in WU off Kirby), my dad’s office (in Village), and a friend’s house in RO. Please PM me for addresses. We have a few new needs, too, for people still going to the store:
Antibiotic ointment, Benadryl, Benadryl for kids, Band-Aids, first-aid kits. A lot of people are still living in these ruined houses with their kids, who already have asthma. We also have an ongoing need for formula and also BOTTLES.

For those far away (like us), the best way to help humans and animals continues to be money that organizations can use for whatever needs arise, but if you are in a position to provide specifically-needed materials, this list is a good place to start.